Impeccable sources have revealed that last week the Minister of Communications and Digitalization, Ursula Owusu-Ekuful personally informed workers of the company that “the deal is done” and latest by February they will know the name of the new buyer.
Meanwhile, the various agencies and partners of AirtelTigo have also been informed about the coming of the new buyer and the forthcoming rebranding of the company.
It is not clear if the brand colors will be changed or maintained, but the source says the name AirtelTigo will be completely done away with.
Meanwhile, workers are very much upbeat about the coming of the new buyer because, as the source put it, “workers have been sitting on the tenterhooks since government acquired AirtelTigo, not knowing what their fate was. But now it is clear that things will be a bit better.”
Government took over AirtelTigo in 2021 for only US$1, when the two telcos which merged to form the company, India’s Bharti Airtel (Airtel) and Sweden Millicom Cellular BV (Tigo) left the country.
Since the merger, the company has still not been doing so well on the market, as it is reportedly heavily indebted to tower companies, particularly ATC Ghana.
Last year, Globacom Ghana, another telco which had also not been doing so well on the market, migrated all of its over 800,000 customers to the AirtelTigo platform. So, now Glo customers have become AirtelTigo customers and the Glo network is now dormant, even though the company still holds its license, at least until July this year.
This also comes at a time when the National Communications Authority (NCA) only recently approved the sale of majority shares in Vodafone Ghana to Telecel Group, after a roller coaster process, in which the NCA initially claimed the deal did not meet regulatory requirements and Telecel did not have the technical and financial muscles to do the job.
Meanwhile, the runaway market leader, MTN Ghana, has been made a significant market power (SMP) with some seven measures being implemented in that regard to correct the imbalance in the market, which has been a concern to both existing and prospective investors in the space.
Industry experts hold that making MTN an SMP was one of the calculated moves to drive investor confidence in the market because several interested investors have for years been concerned about the size and continuous growth of MTN in Ghana as other telcos and ISPs (internet service providers) continued to perform abysmally.
It would have appeared that the SMP strategy has not done much to curtail MTN, so now the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA), has slapped a GHS8.2 billion tax liability on MTN based on an alleged audit done by Safari Tech Ghana Limited, which claimed that MTN hid 30% revenue from government between 2014 and 2018.
MTN has disputed the claim, but it would appear that the efforts at “cutting MTN to size”, as alleged by some industry watchers, has triggered investor confidence to the point that Telecel is set to come into the market and there is a new buyer for AirtelTigo, which would be made public possibly in February.
Ralph Mupita, The President and CEO of MTN Group, Africa’s telecommunications giant, has called for modernisation and harmonisation of regulatory frameworks to ensure Africa can deliver universal broadband coverage by 2030. He made these remarks at the maiden edition of the Africa Prosperity Dialogue held at Peduase in the Eastern Region of Ghana.